Passion is Overrated

Rick Latona wrote last month that you shouldn’t get into a business just because you own a good domain. He’s speaking mainly to domainers, but the essential point is the same one that you hear regularly across the Internet: don’t start a site unless you’re passionate about the topic. Until recently I argued that point as ardently as anyone, because life is just too short to spend it doing something that you don’t enjoy.

However, within the last month or so I’ve realized that I have made all my money doing something that I didn’t have any passion at all for and never had. That was a weird realization.

I mean, not only had I been preaching constantly that you needed to do something you were passionate about, but I was also fully enjoying my life. The two in combination obviously meant that I was passionate about my topics, right?


Turns out, that wasn’t the case at all. I mean I didn’t dislike the sites I was building, but they also didn’t cause me to jump out of bed in the morning ready to get to work. They were largely utilitarian and, as a result, fairly boring.

What I was passionate about, though, was the lifestyle that those sites gave me. I worked only for myself. I set my own schedule. I could go anywhere and do anything that I wanted to. I was no longer beholden to anyone else. That’s something terribly easy to be passionate about.

Would things have been even better if I could have had all that and been doing something I was passionate about? Without a doubt! (Plus, the sites themselves would have almost certainly been more successful to boot.) In a perfect world, we’d all get to work on things that we enjoyed so much we’d do them for free.

We don’t live in a perfect world, though, and sometimes we don’t get to pick our opportunities — we have to make the best of what we’ve got.

So don’t forgo a promising opportunity solely on the grounds that you’re not passionate about it. One of the greatest results of success is the tremendous array of new opportunities that comes along with it. If you can grind it out for as little as a year, new opportunities will begin to emerge. Many of those will be much more appealing to you, plus you’ll have the luxury of being able to pick and choose.

I think you’ll find very, very few people who became successful choosing only projects that they were passionate about. People who don’t have the discipline to grind it out or who won’t take advantage of opportunities simply because they don’t seem “interesting” are often those who complain all their life because they didn’t get the same “breaks” as other people got.

Yes, passion unquestionably makes things better and easier, but you can be passionate about the result of what you’re working on even if you aren’t passionate about the topic itself. You’re much better served getting to work today on something than waiting years for the “right opportunity” to come along.


  • Swanny

    May 20, 2008
    at 6:51 am

    Shane, this quote “You’re much better served getting to work today on something than waiting years for the “right opportunity” to come along.” really reiterates something I have figured out over the past 5 years in the business – jumping on those ‘uninteresting’ opportunities will lead you down a path.. a path of learning that you wouldn’t have been able to explore or learn by just ‘waiting on the perfect opportunity’.

    You will learn and grow in the ‘imperfect opportunities’ probably more than you can in the ‘perfect’ one. Those experiences will lead to success in the future and getting work done today is the only way to get there…



  • Ilia

    June 3, 2008
    at 10:48 am

    Too right Swanny! You can spend the rest of your life waiting.


  • poems girl

    July 9, 2008
    at 9:21 am

    You both are completely right. Waiting is not the key to success and ‘imperfect opportunities’are one of the main reasons for human’s growth and development


  • Just Get Started » Ask

    August 30, 2008
    at 4:00 pm

    […] Quit waiting on the perfect opportunity and just get started. Tags: QuadsZilla, Rand Fishkin, Sahar Sarid, SEOmoz, Seth Godin Related PostsLesson 2: Expose YourselfGreat Things I’ve Read — April 13You’ll Never Get Rich BloggingThe Easiest Way to Set an Advertising Rate for Your Site90 Days to a Successful Blog — Guaranteed […]

  • […] just a few days short of a year ago.  I’ve already kind of answered the question for me in Passion is Overrated, but I wanted to go ahead and publish this in its original form if for no other reason than to be […]


  • dVMG

    April 26, 2009
    at 3:31 pm

    Quite an eloquent post and it’s nice to see what I’ve felt for a long time finally being put into words; having the luxury to work on what you are passionate about is afforded by your past successes as opposed to getting that chance right out of the gate. The freedom to work for yourself and control your destiny is what deserves the passion! Keep up the great posts on this blog…its become one of my favorites since I discovered it a few weeks back.

  • […] biking along with a lot of tennis. That being said, we all aspire to be better in whatever our passion might be – SEO, working out, seeing rich people, or whatever it might be for […]